From One Entrepreneur to Another: Four Tips to Help Canadian Tech Founders Succeed

RatRod Studio is a startup based out of Gatineau. Founded in 2009, the Canadian company specializes in developing and publishing interactive web content and games for mobile devices, PCs, and console systems.

RatRod is a member of BizSpark, a program that founder Pat Toulouse credits as a tremendous help. “Our team was able to benefit from the best software and tools on the market at no cost, allowing us to focus our budget on other areas such as growing the team and polishing our games,” he says of BizSpark. “Microsoft has done a great job to support developers.”

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Toulose recently sat down with a Microsoft Canada Technical Evangelist to discuss his startup and offered advice to other aspiring Canadian tech entrepreneurs. Here are his four top tips:

1. Think carefully about having business partners.

“Just before starting Ratrod Studio, I started another company with a few friends. Things didn’t quite work out and I decided to start my own venture. Even if we were all very good friends, things got a lot tougher when it came to making business decisions.”

2. Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket.

“Find more than one idea and while developing a project, continue brainstorming other ideas. Sometimes you may think a specific title will be a big hit, when in fact it could be the side project that becomes incredibly popular.

“The app market is volatile, you never really know what to expect.”

3. Don’t set the bar too high.

“After working for other companies, I often found myself unsatisfied after working on a project that I really enjoyed because I knew we could have done more.

“My first goal with Ratrod was to make the biggest and baddest game possible. After spending close to a year on our first title, I really had high expectations. The game did well, but not as good as I thought it would be. This can be very disappointing and many developers may not get back on their feet.

“I took it as a lesson, and then started to work on smaller projects to test the market. After I knew I had something that people liked, I then spent the next months adding content and features. The market is often a hit or miss; you don’t want to put all your expectations on a single project. You need to find a niche market and experiment.”

4. Hard work pays off.

“There’s no magic wand that guarantees that you’ll be a successful game developer. Those one hit wonder apps is like winning the lottery. They can inspire you but shouldn’t despair you.They are less than 0.01% of the apps out there.

“You need to be realistic in your expectations and have a solid strategy. As a small developer, publishing your games on multiple-platforms using tools such as Unity is crucial. This maximizes your exposure, revenues and chances to succeed in this business.”